Martin Center column examines higher ed’s ideological imbalance

Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center explores higher education’s “tilted ideological landscape.”

The fact that conservatives are outnumbered on college campuses isn’t groundbreaking news. The amount of ink that’s been spilled recounting the left’s stronghold on the academy and the threats that such ideological imbalance poses to rigorous academic inquiry—not to mention the perverse effects it wields on the culture—has been enough to fill volumes of journals, articles, and books.

But, given that robust dialogue and competing ideas are crucial for the pursuit of truth, the need to shine a light on higher education’s ideological homogeneity is crucial until a healthier balance is established. A recent talk by North Carolina State University political science professor Andrew Taylor did just that.

On October 22, Taylor gave his remarks at an event hosted by the ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) lectures series. ICON is a non-profit organization based in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Taylor’s talk was entitled “Minority Report: The Status of Conservatives on the 21st Century College Campus.” Taylor likened his talk to a “state of the union” address regarding the dearth of conservatives in academia.

Taylor started his talk by describing the climate on college campuses and provided a wealth of data to illustrate the academy’s ideological imbalance. He first focused on the deficit of conservative faculty members in many departments.

The ratio of liberal to conservative political science faculty, for example, is startling— something that Taylor discovered in a study he conducted with Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. The study, “Partisan Affiliation in Political Science: Insights from Florida and North Carolina,” was recently published by the American Political Science Association.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...